"Are there really foods with proven healing properties?'" Dr Joan Borysenko asks in her book, The Plantplus Diet Solution (£12.99; Hay House UK).
It turns out that the answer is a resounding yes! A trained cell biologist and health psychologist, Dr Joan has developed the ultimate nutrition guide that promises to help readers find their metabolic secret to clear chronic health problems and allow them to lose weight naturally.
Dr Joan believes eating a plant-based diet increases our metabolism, improves and cures heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and much, much more. In other words? These are the best superfoods for weight loss and health.
Involving a four-week 'Reboot', the PlantPlus Diet takes us back to basics and helps us develop a diet that's right for us and our bodies. Bonus? All the foods and actually delicious and totally satisfying - even chocolate is allowed! Make sure you add these amazing superfoods to your shopping basket - your body will thank you for it.
Keep reading to discover Joan's top 20 superfoods for weight loss and health...
1. Nuts and seeds
First up on Dr. Joan's top 20 list? Nuts and seeds. "Nuts are very important. A handful is very satiating, and many diet docs recommend eating a quarter cup twice a day - as a morning and afternoon snack if you feel the need," explains Dr Joan.
"Almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamias, and sunflower seeds can be eaten daily. But watch out for peanuts which are often contaminated with a fungus that can cause liver cancer.
"Brazil nuts also deserve a special mention. They're the most concentrated dietary source of the trace element selenium, a critical cofactor for the all-important antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase."
2. Nut Flour
"One of the best delights of the Plantplus Diet are the nut-based baked goods. Even on your reboot, you can enjoy my about-to-be famous chocolate-chip cookies," Dr Joan reveals. "Most health food stores carry organic nut flours. Try blanched almond flour which is lower in phytates and will keep in your refrigerator for abut six months."
3. Yoghurt and Fermented Foods
"Aim for eating two servings of fermented foods daily, Dr Joan says. "We almost always start the day with a yoghurt-berry shake or Greek yoghurt mixed with thawed frozen berries. If you buy sauerkraut, kimchi or other fermented foods, look in the refrigerated section of the store since pasteurisation or canning kills the probiotics."
"The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) checked the antioxidant levels in over 100 antioxidant-rich foods. Granny Smith apples ranked 13th," details Dr Joan. "Eating an apple a day may also slow weight gain, since apples contain a lot of fibre."
"Cocao, the ancient Aztec food of the gods, is nutrient dense and packed with antioxidants that sop up the tissue-damaging free radicals that cause ageing," Dr Joan says. "The phytonutrients in cacao can also help lower blood pressure, fight atherosclerosis and reduce the risk of stroke". Remember to only go for the dark chocolate found in health food shops before you reach for the Cadbury's though!
"Our resident microbes need a wide variety of fibre, and avocados contain both soluble and insoluble types. The insoluble fibre not only feeds your microbes but also moves food residue through the gut," says Dr Joan. "Avocados are also a source of good fat, predominantly monounsaturated fat similar to what's found in olive oil."
"Berries - from blueberries, to boysenberries, strawberries to blackberries, cranberries to raspberries - are superfoods"' Dr Joan explains. "Fresh or frozen, their halt powers remain intact. They're low in calories and high in fibre, and they won't make your blood sugar soar. They're also rich in antioxidant flavonoids."
8. Coffee, Black Tea, White Tea and Green Tea
"Here's a reason to rejoice. Coffee and tea are health foods," reveals Dr Joan! Coffee may actually lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, colon caner and other diseases, according to some studies. "But for a healthier option, try a water-processed decaf. And while tea and coffee are noncaloric, adding lots of milk, sugar, artificial flavouring and syrups can turn these drinks into chemical concoctions and caloric disasters!"
9. Eggs from Free-Range Chickens
"After years of us being told not to eat eggs because of their high cholesterol content, the tide has finally turned," Says Dr Joan. "If you're going to buy eggs, please buy free-range. Yes, they're more expensive that the factory-farmed kind, but overall they're still a very economical source of protein and micronutrients."
10. Ginger Root
"Ginger is a rhizome and subterranean stem that comes fro a plant belonging to the family Zingiberaceae. It's delicious in sauces, marinades, teas and smoothies," says Dr Joan. "Ginger has broad anti-inflammatory effects mediated by well-researched pathways that spare the body the side effects of commercial non steroidal anti-inflammatory grubs."
11. Bhakti Chai
National Chai Day! Steamed or Iced - Bhakti Chai will entice! @FairTradeCert @OrganicTrade @NonGMOProject #chai #NationalChaiDay #tea #ginger #cleanenergy @amazon pic.twitter.com/b5I4uStiNySeptember 21, 2020
"Founded by young entrepreneur Book eddy, Bhakti Chai is a beverage that contains the health benefits of black tea, fresh-pressed ginger and other fresh spices," Dr Joan reveals.
"This superfood is a root that, like ginger, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory used medicinally for thousands of years," explains Dr Joan. "I use the root along with ginger in yoghurt smoothies and add it to almond bread."
"Another plant in the ginger family, cardamom produces small pods containing gin seeds," Dr Joan details. "Like ginger, cardamom has a long history of medicinal use for gastrointestinal problems, arthritis and respiratory problems. It also has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties."
''One of the benefits of cinnamon is that it mimics the effects of insulin and may improve blood-glucose control," reveals Dr Joan. "My recommendation is to use cinnamon liberally, because it makes food so delicious and the house so fragrant."
15. Chili Peppers
"The phytochemical capsaicin is what gives jalapeños, habaneros, chipotles, cayenne and other chill peppers their heat," Dr Joan explains. "Capsaicin is useful in relieving pain, it also lowers blood pressure and gives metabolism a mild boost. Recent research confirms that capsaicin lowers LDL cholesterol too!"
"These little fish are low on the food chain and therefore low in pollutants like mercury that accumulate in larger fish," reveals Dr Joan. "Sardines are wild caught rather than farmed and are rich in vital omega-3 fatty acids."
17. Chicken Soup
"When you make a chicken or turkey soup and boil the bones, the resulting broth contains gelatin. Gelatin is actually the collagen that comes from the bones," Dr Joan explains. "Bone broth has been used as a folk medicine for thousands of years and recent research shows that it really does reduce cold symptoms."
18. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
''People who consume olive oil as a regular part of their diet are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, including stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and high trigycerides," Dr Joan explains. "It can also help regularise carbohydrate metabolism and dampen down spikes in blood sugar!"
"The nutrient-dense dark, leafy green is often referred to as ''the queen of greens.'' It's a member of the Brassica family of vegetables, which includes cabbage, cauliflower, collards and brussel spouts. "All these vegetables have anti-cancer properties. In addition, kale is especially rich in vitamins A,C and K, fibre and a range of micronutrients."
"Salmon is notable for its exceptionally high level of omega-3 fatty acids," says Dr Joan. "This translates into less inflammation, a better ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, improved cellular communication, increased cardiovascular health, better cognitive function and improved metabolic markers."
This list has certainly got us inspired! Which of the above superfoods will you try first?